World War 1

The course of the war - 1

There was initially great enthusiasm for the war in Britain, which many people felt would be over by Christmas.  Germany won the early battles, but was stopped by British and French defenders before reaching Paris.

Both armies dug into trenches on “the Western Front” and despite many attacks and huge loss of life, little real progress was made by other side.  While some soldiers arranged an unofficial Christmas truce, which briefly paused some of the fighting,  generals and politicians on both sides were insistent that the war must continue until full victory was achieved. 

Millions continued to die in battle for the next four years, and conscription  (compulsory military service for men aged between 18 and 41) was introduced across Britain in 1916. This was extended to age 50 in 1918.